The view from Grizzly Peak Boulevard near Signpost 15. Photo: Tracey Taylor
The view from Grizzly Peak Boulevard near Signpost 15. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Three Concord teenagers alleged to have kidnapped and carjacked a couple on Grizzly Peak Boulevard on Thanksgiving Day have been charged with 11 felonies in connection with robberies in Oakland and Walnut Creek on Nov. 27.

Authorities said they also matched the description, and were linked by surveillance footage and a license plate, to a robbery and attempted robbery in Lafayette that same day.

Police investigators said the crew first carjacked a couple on Grizzly Peak, and forced them to drive to an ATM in Walnut Creek to withdraw cash. Afterward, the group is alleged to have robbed another couple on Grizzly Peak, pistol whipping one victim and stealing a container of coins and other property.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office has identified the teens as Jose Avila and Brenton Holtzclaw, both 18, and Ricardo Padilla, 17. (Padilla’s name was not released previously by police because he is a minor, but he is being charged as an adult and his name appears alongside those of his co-defendants on court documents.) The charges — of second-degree robbery, kidnapping to commit robbery, kidnapping for carjacking, carjacking and assault with a deadly weapon — involve five separate victims.

Image: UCPD
Image: UCPD

Police arrested Avila on Dec. 16, according to a report by University of California Police Officer John Kelly.

According to Kelly, Avila told police he and the other two teens named above had a gun and baseball bat when they confronted a couple in a minivan at a turn-out on Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the early morning hours of Nov. 27. Avila said one of his accomplices smashed a window in the van, and another one “pistol whipped” the male victim. The robbers are alleged to have stolen a coin container and other property during this incident.

Kelly wrote that, later, “the trio were observed entering the Safeway store at 5130 Broadway and cashing in coins stolen from the victims during the robbery.”

Avila identified himself in a still photograph from surveillance footage recorded at Safeway, according to Kelly. In addition, Avila is seen in that footage carrying a green plastic container into the store that was identified by a victim as something taken during the Grizzly Peak robbery.

Avila told Kelly he committed another robbery at College Avenue and Broadway in Oakland after the Grizzly Peak incident, using a firearm he discarded while running from police. Kelly searched for that weapon but was not able to find it, he wrote.

Avila also described to Kelly a robbery in Walnut Creek earlier on Nov. 27. According to court papers, the trio robbed a couple on Grizzly Point and forced them at gunpoint to drive to an ATM at a Walnut Creek Walgreens to withdraw $300 in cash. Police said this was before the incident where the coin container was taken and a man was pistol whipped.

“Avila and a co-defendant followed in a suspect vehicle while the other suspect was in the backseat of the victim vehicle armed with a firearm,” wrote Kelly. “The victims in this case, afraid for their safety, followed the instructions of the suspects and withdrew money and gave it to the suspects.”

Police later searched the vehicle used by the teens and Kelly wrote that they found a jacket belonging to one of the people who had been robbed, “as well as loss from other robberies.”

UCPD Officer Brendan Tinney wrote, in a separate report, that Padilla was found in possession of a cellphone belonging to one of the victims.

Tinney wrote that Holtzclaw, after being advised of his right to remain silent, “admitted to robbing a couple of their cellphone and clothing, then riding inside their vehicle, while armed with a compact, black semiautomatic handgun, after instructing them to drive to an ATM and withdraw $300 in cash. HOLTZCLAW also admitted to robbing a second couple, in a minivan, of a large amount of coins and their cellphone.”

According to court documents, the Oakland Police Department arrested Holtzclaw and Padilla on Nov. 27 in connection with the robbery at College and Broadway.

Holtzclaw and Avila were arrested by UCPD on Dec. 16; it was not immediately known whether Holtzclaw was released following his initial arrest, or if he has been in custody since Nov. 27.

All three defendants are eligible for state prison if convicted, according to court papers.

According to the Alameda County district attorney’s office, all three remain in custody at Santa Rita Jail and were scheduled to enter their pleas Monday afternoon. Avila is being held without bail, Holtzclaw on $2 million bail (but had a motion scheduled Monday to ask a judge to reconsider that amount), and Padilla on $150,000 bail.

This story was updated Dec. 31 when authorities provided a clarification about the incidents described above.

3 teens arrested after Grizzly Peak kidnapping (12.17.14)
Suspects in Grizzly Peak robbery, kidnapping identified (12.01.14)
Armed robbery, kidnapping on Grizzly Peak Blvd (11.27.14)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...